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Shakespeare's Career

First years in London

Shakespeare probably moved to London to work in theater sometime during "The Lost Years". However, the first definite proof that he was working in London was a pamphlet that referred to him in 1592. The pamphlet referred to him as both a playwright and an actor. This pamphlet suggested that he was well known for his works in London by this time.

After moving to London, Shakespeare joined a repertory theater company. These companies presented different play regularly, and relied on the admission fees to operate. Most of the popular plays were performed at places like this. In 1594 Shakespeare was a stockholder in a theater company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. The group performed for nobles such as Queen Elisabeth. This group was one of the most popular acting companies in London. Shakespeare was an important member of this group for the rest of his career. By 1594 about six of his plays had been produced.


Shakespeare’s Poems

From about 1592-94, many theaters were closed down to prevent further spreading of the plague. Shakespeare did not need to write plays since the demand had lessened. During this time he began to write poems. This was considered much more noble than writing plays at the time. Some believe that Shakespeare hoped to gain the acclaim that he never received from playwriting.

Shakespeare wrote two long plays during this period: Venus and Adonis 1593, and The Rape of Lucrece. Both poems gained much success, and went through many editions during his lifetime. A few years later when the theaters opened again, Shakespeare returned to writing plays.


The Height of Shakespeare’s Career

Shakespeare was very famous in this period. His plays gained even more popularity, and he was considered the most popular playwright of the time. He remained a stockholder, an actor, and wrote about two plays per year for his company, the Chamberlain’s Men. During the 1590’s Shakespeare was not only famous, but he had also gained a great wealth. He bought two very expensive houses in Stratford. Shakespeare still wished to live in Stratford, but his busy life prevented him from doing so. Records showed that he preferred to invest most of his money in Stratford.

In 1599, Shakespeare and his company became the owners of a new theater in London called the Globe Theater. The theater was outdoor, and could hold many spectators. The theater was located in the London suburb of Southwark.

In 1603, King James VI came into rule. He actively supported theater, and issued a license to the Chamberlain’s Men, allowing them to posses the title the Kings Men. This was very helpful to the group since the plague again caused public theaters to close for a few years. The title helped theater gain popularity again, and they again became the most popular group in London. During this time Shakespeare was at the height of his career. During this time he wrote many of the plays that made him so renowned.

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